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State of Nature and Social Contracts

Breece6 posted this thread...
Oct. 29, 2012 at 8:48 am

For those of you who don't know, the State of Nature (I'll refer to it as SON from now on) is basically anarchy.  Man without government.  The benefits are absolute freedoms, however it comes at a cost.  Your freedom to take other people's freedoms away is still legitimate.  No one can stop you from murdering, stealing, r.aping, anything, no laws.  
A social contract is a compact made by a group of people to give up certain freedoms (i.e. the freedom to steal from your neighbor) mutually so as to ensure stability of society and the security of more important freedoms (i.e. the freedom of not having your neighbor steal from you).  
What's your opinion?  Do you think the SON is a bad or good place?  Do you think a social contract is necessary?  If so, what kind of social contract? 
And finally, what government in the world today do you think is the best example of a successful social contract?

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JunieSparrow replied...
Oct. 29, 2012 at 6:00 pm

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I'm with Locke on this one.  State of Nature is kind of like Natural Man; it doesn't really exist in the real world, but is useful as a thought experiment. 

Let me explain myself.  Say we have a SON with all the consequences.  After a while though, Natural Law will kick in.  People realize it's better for everyone if they get along.  I won't wander through random people's houses if random people won't walk through mine. 

(I guess that indicated that I'm skeptical of your first question.  I think SON is naturally unstable, and therefore in the interests of following Natural Law is undesireable.)

So a society by definition has some Social Contract.  But after people start getting along, some people might still "break" it.  If they cause harm to others who kept the contract, the others come after them and punish them in some way. 

So far we have no government except (self-enforcing) Natural Law and self-government.  (When I say I'm a rational anarchist, what I say is that I believe in self-government rather than an arbitrary government power.  It doesn't mean I want a SON.)  It's enforced by the community; each member of society has the Privilege of all freedoms that don't harm others, and the Responsibility to make sure the Laws of the social contract are followed.  That responsibility is important.  When people try to delegate that responsibility to others, often the gap between the people and the enforcement (Government) grows. The Government forgets the source of its power, and begins to supplant Natural Law with Arbitrary Law. Eventually it begins to oppress the people, and tyranny results.

So yes, I think a social contract is necessary for society to function. But it should be the minimum possible to protect Natural Rights, e.g. Life, Liberty, and Property. A “nation” (a community that formally agrees to abide under the same social contract) should not try to force its social contract on other nations.

It's hard to think of a good example present day nation that's a shining example of Liberty. America used to be. But I don't think we'll see fourteen thousand people coming to see what the government is doing with the powder in Concord today. Probably Switzerland is about the best, or the Zapatistas in Chipas. Yes, they're “communists,” but if it's voluntary, what's the problem? That's kind of the idea behind a social contract.

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Breece6 replied...
Oct. 30, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Surprised more people haven't responded to this yet -_-, I guess it could be exams.  I had benchmarks this week after all I s'pose.  
Regardless, JunieSparrow:
Interesting, but I think that the problem with self government is that people don't always agree.  
The core problem is that what I see as an antagonistic breach of my freedom or an attack against my person or interests is different from what you or someone else may see.  
For example:  I think it's okay to walk on other people's property as long as you're not harming it or them.  Whereas someone else might see that as a breach of privacy, and for good reason.
People could spy on other businesses and steal their ideas, how are you supposed to enforce rights to intellectual property without a more complex legal system? 
Who would be the judge in such a society?  The victim is biased, the accused is biased, their families and friends are biased.  Who would decide what punishment is best? 
Have you perhaps read The Crucible?  I think it serves as a great example of what could happen in such a system.  One might argue that the government of The Crucible is even further from anarchy than ours today, but honestly the speed of communication and government reaction as well as general mobility meant that local government was frequently similar to anarchy.
Another problem I have with anarchy is that I think it will inevitably lead to oligarchy, just because of human nature and desire to compete and attain power.

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Oct. 30, 2012 at 2:58 pm

I'm a proud Anarchist for many reasons. One reason being I don't like people telling me I can and can't do. There is no point to life if you can't be happy and free, and society and governments suck the happiness and freedom out of everything. It is very possible to have an anarchy, the first thing you need to do is take all the immoral people, those who steal, murder, and are in general apathetic and either exile them or kill them if they refuse to leave. You can't have an Anarchy if not everyone respects their fellow man and has empathy. A social contract is a good idea, to set things up for everyone, but as long as we do a good job weeding out those not responsible enough to be Anarchists, a social contract is unnecessary. I hate how we need a government nowadays to keep the immoral people in line, while the rest of us suffer from lack of freedom. It's not right, and we should do something about it. I've been told that exiling people is immoral, and it is if it's uncalled for, but when it's for the good of humanity it makes sense. 

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Imaginedangerous replied...
Oct. 30, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Um, Sorla, how do you prove immorality? If someone is planning to do harm to another, all they have to do is lie and they slip through the system.
Do you automatically exile/kill anyone after they make a minor infraction? A system like that has no room for error at all. If someone commits a minor theft, you have no proof that they won't do it again, and you have no choice but to kill them to prevent that.
And how do you come to a consensus on what is moral and what is not? Maybe some of us believe that doing drugs is immoral because people lose control of thier behavior when they are high and might hurt someone else. Should we be able to exile everyone who does drugs? And if the answer is no, can those who do drugs be fairly exiled if they do hurt of kill someonr else while high? If the majority of people decides that drugs should be exiled (or even kept), can they decide that anyone who disagrees with them is 'immoral'?

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Oct. 30, 2012 at 6:48 pm

There is no gray area when it comes to empathy. It's easy to tell if someone has empathy or not just by talking to them, and if they don't, they can get out of my Anarchy. The key idea here is to prevent not only the immoral people from gaining access to the Anarchy, but preventing anyone from taking advantage of you by defending what is yours and the people you care about. As long as someone isn't harming another, they can do whatever they want. Doing drugs doesn't make anyone go crazy and kill people if they know how to handle their high, and if they do hurt someone then they should be exiled. Not for their drug use, but for harming another. 

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Breece6 replied...
Oct. 31, 2012 at 6:17 am

There's a lot of anarchists around here!  :P
I find anarchy intriguing personally, don't take this as me being disrespectful, but I still disagree with the practicality of it though.
Maybe you could help with that :D
First off, "There's no gray area when it comes to empathy..." I disagree.  What if someone has a really good poker face?  What if someone has a reason to not be empathetic, like they believe the other person is abusing the system.  What if the person has a medical condition that makes their body language sporadic?  
I think relying on hunches and body languages to determine whether someone deserves to live in a society is a little irresponsible and impractical.
Furthermore, what about potential harm?  What if I've seen a person who's gotten violent on drugs before, but not hurt anybody yet?  The possiblity is still there.  
The big problem I have is that morality is subjective, and I find it hard to deal with it without and organized system.

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JunieSparrow replied...
Oct. 31, 2012 at 4:14 pm

I said I don't mind a social contract!  Lol.  For example, maybe it's generally accepted that it's bad form to walk on others' property without permission.  Well, then even if you think it's okay, you don't do it because it's considered "wrong" by the community.  But the community can only "regulate" interactions between people; it can't judge morality.  The power of a "government" comes from the people.  It has no right an individual does not have.  

That's why you can get in trouble for "just following orders."  Every individual has the responsibility to determine right and wrong, and not just accept everything someone or something else tells him.  

Intellectual property?  I think it doesn't make sense to enforce intellectual copyright.  That's why I say you're free to do whatever you want to with my work.  It's against Natural Law to restrict knowledge.  

I've never read The Crucible, but I am familiar with the Salem witch trials.  This is an example of why an anarchy is preferable to some other system.  When a community tries to dispense justice, it may be misguided.  But it is limited in the amount of damage it can do.  The Salem community was fairly well organized, but you're right, it didn't answer to anyone.  It was misguided, and it killed twenty innocent people.  But look at Germany, where six million J.ews were killed.  Six million.  

Salem was limited to twenty scapegoats.  Even if several hundred had been killed, it would have come nowhere close to the number of J.ews killed.  That's why anarchy is preferable:  it limits the power of the Government.  Because there is no government, each individual is responsible for justice.  We don't get somebody else to do the dirty work.  

Yes, it seems as though anarchy inevitably leads to oligarchy.  *Sighs*  People don't like responsibility.  They prefer to be slaves.  

There are a lot of anarchists on here!  I can think of four right off.  I wonder why?

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Breece6 replied...
Oct. 31, 2012 at 6:47 pm

While such a government does sound interesting, there would be no organized military to defend from foreginers.  What if a country with an organized government and military invaded and colonized?  
Regardless of practicality, what about serious crimes like murder?  If someone wants a murderer to be punished is it their responsibility to punish the murderer?  And how does one determine whether one is guilty?  What if it takes enough time to prove the person guilty that they have time to escape before put into custody?  How would arresting work?  How would punishments be decided upon? 
If we say that it is the victim's right to punish the criminal, that's outrageous.  What if the victim is physically weaker than  the criminal?  This would be a dog eat dog system it seems like.  
And consider, people could be racist and prejudiced and s.exist all they want and there's no laws on it.  You could have a different set of prices for women, different races, different age groups, etc.  
As for intellectual property, what if your idea is worth lots of money?  Like an invention you could sell or a piece of artwork you could sell?  Somebody could claim it for themselves and rob you of tons of potential money.  
I agree that a small community anarchist society would be limited in the amount of damage it could do.  But if everywhere was anarchy, we'd have thousands upon thousands of communities, a fair amount of whom could easily be misguided and cause atrocities similar to Salem.  Then those small communities would add up, possibly to the amount of damage similar to the holocaust.
I am definitely intrigued by anarchism, and I can respect your views and especially your reasons for wanting such a system, and I could agree that such a system might be optimal in theory.  However, in terms of practicality and real life, I'm not sure it would work as well as it would on paper.  

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CollinF replied...
Nov. 1, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Ok, so we overthrow the government, execute everyone we view as disagreeable, somehow seize power from this temporary dictator(s) holding enough power to slaughter mass numbers of people who don't wanna move, establish a lawless state bound to collapse and be swallowed by enemies in years at the most, all so that . . . . . we can smoke our weed? Riiiight.

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Breece6 replied...
Nov. 2, 2012 at 11:09 am

That's an exaggeration buddy :P  
But I do agree that anarchy isn't practical, yours is still a huge exaggeration and misrepresenation of the anarchist opinions that have been expressed, at least in this thread, before.

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Nov. 2, 2012 at 4:43 pm

I see a few of you have problems with my radical ideas, lol, so let me clarify. First off, there is no hiding what you're thinking when you talk to someone face to face. People lie all the time, some of them are very good at it, but I know that no one can lie to me, and I'm sure a lot of other people can tell when others are telling the truth or not. It's all in their body language, eyes, emotion, tone, and general choice of words.
Now when someone is abusing the system or other people, then they need to leave, no argument about it. They weren't empathetic and in turn we shouldn't show them empathy. We are animals after all, and behave like animals. As long as we get past the selfish, hard core survival instinct that all animals have, we can very easily coexist with no authority.
Typically when people get violent on drugs, they are violent to begin with. Drugs are a good example of the id, people do what they want without regard for social norms on drugs. That's why people do crazy things while high, but it's harmless nonsense for the most part. People harming others is bad in general, people don't need drugs to harm each other. Drugs bring out the real person you are without any fronts, and the people who are violent on drugs you should avoid anyways when they're sober. I know for myself, being a non violent person unless threatened, I don't get violent when I'm high and me and all the other people out there that are harmless under the influence shouldn't have to suffer for those that do harm others. That is impractical.
Morality is not subjective. Don't harm anyone, physically or emotionally, it's as simple as that. I agree with Junie, it's up to the people to make the right choices, not just make the right choices out of fear of getting caught. It's also up to the people to defend themselves against others that mean them harm and invaders. If everyone in an Anarchy is fully capable of defending themselves and their neighbors, we wouldn't need a military. I don't know about everyone else, but if someone was threatening me, my family, or my neighbors, I would fight to the death to stop them.
If someone murders someone else, it would be our responsibility to exile or kill the murderer, first for killing someone, one of the worst things you can do, and also to protect ourselves from them and make sure they never kill again. If someone commits a lesser crime, they will be compelled to leave as they aren't civil enough to function in an Anarchy. Living in an Anarchy is a luxury only meant to be given to those responsible enough to handle it without harming others.
As for prejudice, there's another thing that is immoral. It's up to the people to stand up for themselves and each other. When someone is passionate and directly involved, they do a much better defending themselves then any politician or authority figure. 
And yeah, all this so we can smoke our weed. Also so we can be free to do what we want and live how we please, be happy and not need to worry about power hierarchy. As we would all be equal and coexist with like minded people who understand the importance of empathy and morality. We don't need authority to control us if we do the right thing to begin with.

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CollinF replied...
Nov. 2, 2012 at 6:22 pm

I think it's pretty much exactly what sorla said, minus the long treatises on how he/she can somehow tell when people are lying.

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JunieSparrow replied...
Nov. 2, 2012 at 8:40 pm

I've never been under the influence of any drug, probably because I'm paranoid of not being in control of my senses.  Lol.  Point is, for me it's not about one particular right/priviledge, but about not being a slave. 
Think about it.  As a slave, you're protected.  You have food to eat.  What more could you want? 
Answer:  Liberty

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JunieSparrow replied...
Nov. 2, 2012 at 8:56 pm

In terms of a society actually working, it would certainly be difficult, especially in today's welfare society where the default is slavery.  But if people begin to value self-reliance, it might be possible.
Read The Moon is A Harsh Mistress if you want to see what I mean.  We'd have to have a paradigm shift where people begin to accept the responsibility I talked about earlier. 
You asked how justice would be served.  It's a fairly well established Natural Law that no man is a just arbitrator in his own cause.  That's why we have our "impartial" legal system.  In an anarchy, the people with the disagreement would come to an agreement on a "judge."  This would be someone both sides thought would give a fair judgement.  They'd each present their side, and the judge would decide the case. 
There's a scene of this in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress; again, I highly recommend reading the whole novel. 
(Sorry I haven't been around much.  It's not exams, it's deer season.  *rolls eyes*  That's what you get in redneck country.)

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CollinF replied...
Nov. 3, 2012 at 2:07 pm

I agree with you completely that the mind-set of "The gov. should provide for me" is a massively wrong approach. Liberty is much more desirable.  
However, the only way to preserve liberty is to give up a bit of it. We need a third party to protect our God-given rights when we're oppressed by someone else. Period. There cannot be a paradigm shift, as humans have been this way forever and always will be this way because they're humans. 

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Nov. 3, 2012 at 2:35 pm

That's an interesting thought Collin, but why would you want your civil liberties to depend on a third party? Freedom is a human right, there shouldn't need to be someone acting as an authority figure to defend personal freedom, people should coexist by their own free will. I was under the impression that America was formed to escape oppressive law from England, but now we barely have any personal freedoms thanks to our government getting involved with our everyday lives. But it's ok, because they are supposedly protecting us, and we've been brainwashed into thinking that the government is in place for our own good. The only ones who benefit from the government are the government. I dream of a day where I can fire my gun from my front porch, sell my homemade whisky, smoke and grow my weed, say and do whatever I want, and only worry about my community while helping to improve the morality of the human race... all without wearing any pants. Four or five of those things are illegal, and that is infuriating to me, those are personal freedoms that our forefathers fought a dam.n war to earn. Most of my neighbors have been arrested or gone to jail multiple times for just being themselves, I feel like we're living in the dark ages. The government has no right to tell us what to do, and no right to control us. Democracy my as.s, we the people never get a say...

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JunieSparrow replied...
Nov. 5, 2012 at 6:51 am

It's certainly true that no society will be perfect, not even anarchy, for the simple reason that humans are imperfect.  But can you give an example of something better? 
CollinF, I'm not sure how to address your claim that a paradigm shift is impossible.  You may be right; if so we're doomed and it's not worth trying to change anything.  But I'm not so sure that's the case.  Are you honestly trying to say that at no point in time the general population has valued liberty more than it does now?  If so, please try to explain the first American Revolution. 
Going further on this topic, please tell me what you think of Larkin Rose's video "But who will pick the cotton." 
htt p://ww w.youtube.co m/watch?v=7GX4-hdzJwo

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Breece6 replied...
Nov. 9, 2012 at 8:24 am

Collin: I still kinda disagree *crosses arms and looks away* :P
JunieSparrow and Sorla:
That's the whole idea of a social contract actually :D You see if you have your freedom to kill me and take my stuff it violates my freedom to live and have property.
Now obviously, you could say "we don't need a third party to ensure that freedoms are restricted to those that don't harm others" but that's when we come to the argument about whether morality is subjective and how to tell whether someone is empathetic or not.

As for whether it's obvious someone is empathetic or not, what about people who are disabled in such a way that renders them incapable of reading body language and or tone?

For that matter what about disabled people in general in the society you're referring to? I guess they'd just be left to die, natural selection at its finest eh? I realize I'm a little biased here but I think that relying on sensory cues and interpretation (which is subjective) to decide whether to exile someone or not is absurd.

I've had moments in my life where I was astounded by an act of compassion from someone I would not have assumed would act in such a way. The problem is that people change, a mean person one day might change when faced with a life altering event. I just don't believe you're system is reliable.
"We wouldn't need a military" I think you're missing what I'm saying.
If an actual governed country (like America for example) came into your hypothetical anarchist society with a fully trained and armed military, I don't think a cobbled together militia would work very well against them.
Maybe 200 years ago, but in this day and age, no chance.

As for whether morality is subjective or not:

How do you define what harms someone physically or emotionally? How do you determine who is really the victim? What if two people have harmed each other emotionally? Exile them both?

I can't think of a single person in my life who hasn't done me some kind of emotional harm. I guess exile them all! How do you determine how many mistakes to forgive? In your society naturally the strongest willed person would probably be the most influential voice of reason, what if that person is biased?

For that matter, how do you deal with bias in moral proceedings?

It just seems so impractical to me.


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human6 replied...
Nov. 23, 2012 at 12:06 pm

There's a lot of anarchists around here!  :P 
I was anTI anarchist before it was cool (puts on hipster glasses)

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